Public Charge

Take Action – Deadline December 10, 2018

  • Changes to the determination of “public charge” will have an impact on legal immigrants’ future immigration status.  Below you will find more information on this important topic.  Click here to submit a comment letter.

What is the issue?

  • On September 22, 2018 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a proposed rule that could limit legal immigrants’ future immigration status, such as the ability to get a green card or become a citizen, based on their receipt of public benefits.
  • The rule would expand the types of programs that can contribute to a “public charge” determination to include Medicaid, Medicare Part D, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/food stamps), and select housing programs.
  • The Immigration and Nationalization Act has required most immigrants, not including refugees, asylees or other exempt groups, to show that they are “not likely to become a public charge” in order to apply for citizenship.
  • Public charge, under 1999 guidance, has only been applied to non-citizens who rely on cash benefits for most of their income, or who require public assistance for long-term care or institutionalization.
  • This proposed rule would end those exemptions and redefine public charge as non-citizens who receive an amount greater than 15% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) for a household of one, which in 2018 would equate to any assistance with a monetary value of $1,821 or greater.

Why does it matter?

  • Illinois is in the top 10 states with the largest immigrant population.  It is estimated that 450,000 undocumented immigrants live in Illinois as of 2014.
  • The enhanced requirements would create a disincentive for immigrants to enroll in publicly-funded health insurance programs or other government-sponsored subsidies.
  • Penalizing immigrants with medical conditions creates a type of “pre-existing” condition bar for non-citizens who wish to advance their citizenship status.
  • If immigrants don’t access public health insurance, they are less likely to have adequate screenings and preventative services, or miss a serious medical condition. Many immigrants may avoid signing up for public health insurance as it would increase their chances of being determined a public charge.
  • Including food and housing assistance in the public charge determination may mean families avoiding assistance that is critical to their overall health and well-being.
  • Hospitals and health systems who serve immigrant populations could see an increase in the use of the hospital emergency department in lieu of other care settings.

What is the AMITA Health perspective?

  • Our community’s health is at risk due to fear. When members of our community who should be able to legally access benefits live in fear that those benefits may risk their citizenship status, everyone loses. The result is many won’t access necessary services in the community and that puts their health and well-being as risk.
  • AMITA Health believes in protecting the dignity of every human life. Each individual impacted by this proposed rule is created in the image and likeness of God. These changes contradict our faith and our nation’s history of offering refuse to the poor and oppressed.
  • We are called to be a voice for the voiceless. We stand in solidarity with our immigrant communities as they make themselves heard.  Our faith-based ministry also calls us to advocate for those who do not have a voice and to fight for social justice.  We support measures that seek to protect immigrant communities, and believe immigrants deserve continued protection and a path to citizenship.

External Resources

Information from third-party organizations that can be resources for you to continue to learn about the issues at hand.

Manatt Insights Proposed Public Charge Rule Analysis

CHA and Manatt Insights presentation on the impact of the Trump Administration's Department of Homeland Security proposed rule on public charge.

View Resource

Catholic Charities Proposed Public Charge Rule Analysis

CHA and Catholic Charities presentation on the impact of the Trump Administration's Department of Homeland Security's proposed rule on public charge.

View Resource

Featured News

Featured news includes articles from multiple viewpoints and is designed to keep you abreast of the current debate around this issue. This information should not be construed as our point of view.

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5 things to know about Trump’s new “public charge” immigration proposal

A proposed rule from the White House would make it harder for legal immigrants to get green cards if they have received certain kinds of public assistance — including Medicaid, food ...

ABC News + September 25, 2018 + View Article